James, apostle - July 25th
St James the Greater – the brother of St John the Evangelist (d. 44)
(Relics: Santiago de Compostela, Spain; Jerusalem, Israel)
Tradition holds that St James the Greater traveled to Spain soon after the death of Christ. During this time the Blessed Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to him as Our Lady of the Pillar. Subsequently he returned to Jerusalem where he was beheaded in 44 AD. According to tradition his relics were then returned to Spain either by angels or by Spanish disciples. The Armenian church of St James in Jerusalem honors his martyrdom and claims to possess the relic of his head.
First Class Relics
Catedral de Santiago de Compostela
(Cathedral of James of Compostela)
Praza do Obradoiro S/N
15705 Santiago de Compostela, La Coruna, Spain
*For more than 1000 years pilgrims have walked along the famous Camino de Santiago to visit the relics of St James the Greater in this church. In 2014 alone over 200,000 individuals made this pilgrimage. The relics of St James rest below the main sanctuary of this church within a small silver reliquary.
St James Cathedral
91190 Jerusalem, Israel
*St James the Less is purportedly buried next to his reputed throne on the left side of the main sanctuary. This is the large chair below the onion-shaped baldacchino.
*The head of St James the Greater is said to rest under a small circular piece of red marble located within the third chapel on the left side of the nave. This chapel is also said to mark the location of his martyrdom.
*Access to this church is limited. It is generally open for only forty minutes during the Vigil service at the 3pm hour.
Churches of Honor in Rome
San Giacomo degli Incurabili / San Giacomo in Augusta
(Saint James of the Incurables / Saint James in Augusta)
Via del Corso 499
*This church is near Piazza del Popolo. It is dedicated to St James the Greater.
*Within the second chapel on the left side of the nave is a large statue of St James the Greater sculpted by Ippolito Buzio.
Santa Maria in Monserrato
(Our Lady of Montserrat)
Via di Monserrato
*This church is near the Piazza Farnese.
*The third chapel on the left side of the nave is dedicated to St James the Greater. Within this chapel is a large statue of St James completed by Jacopo Sansovino in the 16th century. Prior to the French occupation of Rome this statue had been located at San Giacomo dei Spagnoli near Piazza Navona. The damage that this church suffered during the French occupation prompted the Spanish to abandon this church in the 19th century. Much of its art was then transferred to Santa Maria in Monserrato or returned to Spain.
Santa Maria sopra Minerva (Our Lady Above Minerva)
Piazza della Minerva 42
*This church is near the Pantheon.
*Within the fifth chapel on the left side of the nave is a painting of St James the Greater completed by Marcello Venusti in the 16th century.
*Also the body of St Catherine of Siena (d. 1380) rests under the main altar.
Nostra Signora del Sacro Cuore
(Our Lady of the Sacred Heart)
Corso del Rinascimento 27
*This church is at Piazza Navona. Prior to the French occupation of Rome it was the national church of Spain and was called San Giacomo dei Spagnoli.
*The second chapel on the left side of the nave is dedicated to St James the Greater. Prominently placed within this chapel is a copy of Jacopo Sansovino’s 16th century statue of St James the Greater. Upon the sidewalls are several frescoes by Pellegrino Munari depicting alleged events from St James’ life.
San Giacomo alla Lungara (Saint James at the Lungara)
Via della Lungara 12
*This church is just north of Trastevere and it is dedicated to St James the Greater. It is not open often.